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The Coalition for Practical Regulation announced that the California Court of Appeal has ordered that a controversial storm water permit be “set aside” on the grounds that the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when it issued the permit to 87 cities and Los Angeles County in December 2001. Cities are required to pass on the storm water permit requirements to homeowners and businesses.
Thirty-two cities, Los Angeles County and two building trade associations sued the Regional Water Board in 2001 when it imposed new urban runoff controls on construction and redevelopment projects. The cities claimed that the Regional Water Board had failed to consider the impacts of new regulations on homeowners and businesses. A trial court ruled in favor of the Regional Board in 2005.
The Appeals Court, although supporting the trial court on other issues, agreed with the cities that the Regional Board did not comply with California’s strict environmental laws and directed the trial court to set aside the storm water permit. The Court specifically found that the permit imposed “considerable requirements on development in residential and business settings,” and that the Act “required that the regional board engage in specified environmental assessments.”
“The Appellate Court expressly found no merit to the regional board’s argument that the permit is not subject to environmental review,” commented Larry Forester, Mayor of the City of Signal Hill. Forester and many local elected officials have expressed concern that the Regional Board has not fully disclosed the impacts of new storm water requirements on the region’s homeowners and businesses. The Board has begun the process of considering a new permit to be issued in 2007. The cities expect that the Regional Board will add more requirements and expenses onto homeowners and businesses.